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VALAIS BLACKNOSE SHEEP BREED STANDARD

Horns are helical or spiral and grow outward from the head in both ewes and rams.  

The wool is an important characteristic and the whole body, head and legs is evenly well-covered, exhibiting the sheep’s robust frame. 

 

 

1. Appearance 

Color Features: 

  • Black nose to the center of the head 

  • Black encompassing the eye area connecting with the black of the nose, no gap is permitted 

  • Black ears – black should meet the white of the head 

  • Black hooves and ankle area (‘black socks’) 

  • Black spots on knees and hocks (spots can be non-symmetrical) 

  • Females are to have a black tail spot.  There must be a finger-width gap of white on the tail.  

  • For females missing a marking feature i.e. knee spot, a point deduction might be made depending on overall conformation and wool. 

  • Males must not have a tail spot 

  • Male scrotum may be black, this is fine, but the black must not spread upward into the belly area and fleece 

 

Spitti:  

On occasion a purebred Valais Blacknose may produce offspring marked in reverse colour /markings which are referred to as ‘Spitti’ (a name adopted in the UK from Swiss Blacknose breeders).  However, in Switzerland the ‘Spitti’ may be referred to by different names in the varying villages and areas of Valais. Spitti rams should be castrated and not used for breeding purposes. 

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Head & Neck: 

  • Well proportioned, compact head 

  • Roman nose, wide mouth, broad forehead 

  • Pronounced, regal head shape in rams.  Mature rams often develop protuberance behind horn base 

  • Short, straight well-muscled neck 

 

Horns: 

Spiral outward from head, horizontally away from cheeks (You should always be able to fit a flat hand comfortably between the horn and cheek) 

  • Black stripes in the horns are acceptable 

 

Chest, Shoulder & Withers: 

  • Wide, deep, chest area 

  • Shoulders line naturally with neck and chest 

  • Well-spaced, wide withers 

  • Rib cage curvature is well proportioned and rounded 

 

Back & Loin: 

  • Long, straight top line 

  • Wide back and loin 

 

 Pelvis, Abdomen & Hindquarters: 

  • Medium sized belly with small belly hollows/pits (paralumbar fossa) 

  • Wide and medium-length pelvis 

  • Well-muscled hindquarters 

 

Withers (from two years): 

  • Female: 72 – 78 cm 

  • Male: 75 – 83 cm 

 

Weight (over two years): 

  • Female: 70 – 90 kg 

  • Male: 80 – 125 kg 

 

Conformation  

Limbs: 

  • Strong, sure footed  

  • Solid hoof deportment 

  • Legs are not bandy/bow legged 

  • Legs are not knock-kneed 

 

Foundations: 

  • Slight hock angulation 

  • Short, strong pasterns (45-degree angle) 

  • Solid bone structure 

  • Joints should be straight and sound 

 

Gait: 

  • Spacious, sure footed and wide legged 

  • Doesn’t sway or waver 

  • Even and stable movement 

  • Mobile with ease 

 

 Wool 

  • Fleece in lambs is soft to touch but becomes coarser as the sheep matures (The Swiss grade approximately equates to 28-38 microns depending on age and gender.  Fiber diameter generally finest in lambs and coarsest in adult males) 

  • Staple length is 10cm based on 6 months growth (Recommended to be shorn twice a year.  Fleece weight when shorn approx. – Lambs 1-1.5 kg / Ewes 2.5 -3kg / Rams 2.5 – 3kg – Based on 6 months growth) 

  • Fleece is uniformly white and balanced over the whole body 

  • Wool on legs is thick and full 

  • Wool on head is natural and long 

  • Some black hairs /fibers are tolerated on the neck area (Females only. In males up to 18 months of age this should be factored when castrating) 

 

Castration Criteria & Reason for Excluding Rams During Grading 

Anatomy: 

  • Short lower jaw or uneven jaw length 

  • Incisor teeth not in contact or correct position with dental pad i.e. overbite or underbite up to 18 months of age 

  • Weak and/or fallen pasterns 

  • Stunted growth 

  • Only one testicle present 

  • Scrotal hernia 

 

Markings:  

  • Black body spots on the main body area 

  • Black tail spots 

  • Markings missing from knees, hocks or head 

 

Wool:  

Major flaw in the fleece/wool i.e. 

 

Kemp and/or tender fibers (Kemp fibers are short, medullated (hollow) fibers with pointed tips that may be found within fleece. Kemp is undesirable in fleece because it does not take up dye and is coarse, brittle, weak and ‘prickly. Tender or ‘hunger-fine’ fibers are thinned and break easily, and may occur due to malnutrition, disease and/or scarring).  

  • Excessive number of guard hairs (i.e. long, coarse, stiff, outer-coat hairs which may be present. They cause the same difficulties to the processing as kemp fibers and are easy to recognize in the fleece because they are typically much longer than the actual wool fibers.) 

  • Mixed-colored wool up to an age of 18 months in rams.    

 

 

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